When my husband and I announced that we had set our hearts on moving to Seattle last year, we quickly became familiar with the cliches of the city (some true, some not so true).
Since we moved to Seattle this summer, we’ve now had enough time to come to know the city’s cliches firsthand, and after reading NPR’s “8 Simple Rules for Staying Sane in Seattle” I was compelled to write about the reasons why we love the city.
Below, you’ll find NPR’s “8 Simple Rules” and our reactions to them.
1. Don’t move here in the summer.
Oops! Well, we’re not off to a good start then, are we NPR?
It’s true, we caught the end of the sun and summer in Seattle when we moved here, but fortunately, coming from Phoenix, we didn’t mind that much when the rainy season began. To be honest, we were actually looking forward to the rain and witnessing the seasons that the Northwest has to offer. So far, we’re happy to report that we’ve adjusted well and we’re still enjoying Seattle’s weather this November.
(Side-note: My husband still wears short sleeves when he can. Pretty impressive for someone born and raised in Arizona, right?)
2. Avoid your neighbors.
I’m not sure many people would understand this unless you’ve lived here.
Have you heard about the Seattle Freeze? We hadn’t, until we moved. Supposedly, Seattleites are infamous for being cold, distant and not trusting, therefore making it difficult to make friends or maintain relationships in the city. Frankly, this hasn’t been our experience here, as we’ve found that people are friendlier in Seattle than we’ve experienced in the past, and we love our neighbors (okay, most of them)!
Although, to be fair, most of our weekends thus far have been filled with travel or visiting with our family in the area, so perhaps we will revisit this topic after a year of mingling and living here.
3. You can’t be too utopian.
It’s true. Seattle has some big ideas and wants to make big changes. This is part of the reason why we moved here.
Unfortunately, it seems like most of them are still a work in progress in the city. We’ve learned that the monorail and the Seattle waterfront are topics that shouldn’t be brought up in conversation here (unless you’re complaining about them), because to Seattleites, it seems like these projects will never come to fruition.
Like NPR states, “We prefer to hide our pragmatism behind the vanity of noble ambitions.”
4. Cultivate a superior attitude.
This rule made me laugh the first time I read it, since Seattle was just named 2013’s “Smartest City in North America,” but I don’t think Seattleites have a superior attitude about it.
Since moving here, I have had the opportunity to connect with so many great start-up businesses who have the best ideas and with so many people willing to help those businesses and ideas grow.
Although one might expect that the “smartest city in North America” that is home to the “biggest charity in the world” might also be home to some snobbish people, this hasn’t been our experience, and we are encouraged by everyone and their ideas here, rather than intimidated.
5. Forget the weather report.
Ready to talk about Seattle’s infamous rain? Great! But I’m not telling you anything that you didn’t already know. It rains.
Something that may surprise you, however, is that our city is only ranked 44th among major U.S. cities in average annual rainfall. Houston, Texas; New Orleans; Mobile, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee and every major city on the eastern seaboard, including New York; Philadelphia; Miami and Boston all get more rainfall in a year than Seattle. For more information, read “Seattle Doesn’t Get That Much Rain.”
I spent most of my life growing up in the Midwest, where there can be sun in the morning, rain in the afternoon and snow by evening, so I learned not to pay attention to weather reports a long time ago.
Since living here, we’ve learned that most of the time it rains, it’s a light rain. So light, in fact, that most of the time we forget it’s even raining. That being said, I’ve learned to embrace my natural curls and we know to bring our rain jackets or a sweatshirt with a hood anywhere we go. Which leads us to our next topic…
6. Don’t buy summer or winter clothes.
This is one of my favorite things about living in Seattle. I can’t emphasize this enough!
In Seattle the temperature rarely goes above 80 degrees or below 40 degrees (if you need proof, read this). So, we quickly learned that all you need to do is layer. Our usual outfits are made up of a jacket (Ryan wears flannel), a tee, a pair of jeans, long socks and boots. That’s it.
Dress code in Seattle is also fairly relaxed compared to other places we’ve lived, so my usual work outfit consists of a sweater, leggings and boots. Amazing, right?
(Side-note: Unrelated, but while we’re talking about working in Seattle, in addition to being able to dress comfortably, most workplaces in Seattle are also flexible in that you can often telecommute to work, and when you are in the office, you can bring your pet with you. Yes, you read that correctly. I said you can bring your pet with you to work. It is quite common to see dogs of all sizes walking with their owners to work in the morning. For a dog-lover like me, this is both good and bad because I am often compelled to stop owners and visit with them and their dogs on my way to work, which occasionally results in me running behind schedule to the office.)
7. Don’t think about the Big One.
We don’t like to think about it, much less talk about it, but if you must know, a megaquake could hit Seattle tomorrow, or the next day or many years from now. No one knows.
What makes the situation more dangerous is that Seattle is on a fault line and is also built at the foot of a volcano (also known as “the mountain,” in Seattle, or Mt. Rainier) in a fault zone surrounded by water (the Puget Sound).
If you want to get into more detail about it, you can read about it on the city of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management page.
What’s interesting is that because it is generally overcast here, we don’t see Mt. Rainier as often as we’d like, even though it is so close to the city. So, most Seattleites are actually happy when we can see the mountain on a clear day.
I guess we will continue to not think about the “big one,” and enjoy the days when we can see Mt. Rainier.
8. Peek through the Cascade Curtain.
If we ever feel the need to take a road trip and escape the rain, it’s nice to know that on the other side of the Cascade mountain range is a drier, sun-filled Washington that reminds us of Arizona.
We already got to see part of Eastern Washington on our drive from Phoenix to Seattle, and can imagine that it would be a perfect place to go in the winter when there’s snow and ice.
As NPR advises Seattleites: “You need to dry out your moss once in a while.”